As state economies reopen, Duke Energy and sister company Piedmont Natural Gas are expanding assistance options for customers whose lost jobs or income during the coronavirus pandemic.
“We were proud to give our customers peace of mind that their electric and natural gas services would remain on as pandemic conditions left many families without incomes,” said Barbara Higgins, Duke Energy senior vice president and chief customer officer. “Now, we want to help customers prepare as states contemplate fully reopening their economies.”
Duke said customers throughout its operating area, which includes Florida as well as Indiana, Kentucky, North Carolina, Ohio, South Carolina and Tennessee, can head to its website to view the suite of available assistance programs.
Among them is a tool that can help customers set up an extended payment arrangement that works for them.
Support also includes a simplified application process for the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program; professional guidance for small business customers to help analyze their energy usage and lower their bills; and waivers for credit/debit card and walk-in payment fees for residential customers for an additional two months.
“The financial impacts from this pandemic are far from over,” Higgins said. “We will be following the states’ lead for when we resume options, and while the timelines may be different, our commitment to customers and the solutions-focused care we offer will be abundant and consistent.
“We encourage customers who are, understandably, behind in their payments, to take advantage of these resources now and to continue paying what they can to avoid large bill balances that may be difficult to manage later.”
The utility company also said it would communicate directly with customers about when standard billing and payment processing is expected to resume.
The expansion in assistance options comes after other commitments Duke has made amid the global pandemic. In April, Duke said it would send $1 million in grants to bolster COVID-19 response efforts in communities across Florida.
Additionally, the company announced last week that it would contribute $1 million to nonprofit organizations committed to social justice and racial equity.